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security—though confidentiality might require security. And the government department responsible has been accused of sharing patient data with third parties before.3 Both the Director General DG of Health and the COVID-19 Judge are required to file weekly reports stating the number, names, and details of all persons whose location or movements were obtained. This will contribute to the oversight of collection, and may go some way to assisting in the minimisation of collection as necessary. The duration of the data collection is also circumscribed and terminates with the end of the national state of disaster, thereby limiting the scope of the exercise. The regulations require that every person whose information was obtained be notified of such, within six weeks of the national state of disaster lapsing, as a nod to data subject participation. It is not clear why the regulations do not require alerting data subjects at the moment of data collection, which would be relatively easy to do through text messaging. The regulations require that all information on the COVID-19 Tracing Database, which has not been de-identified, is destroyed once the state of disaster has ended. While deidentification is not defined in the regulations, it is defined in section 1 of POPIA. If the government were to depart from that definition in its implementation of the regulation it would be difficult to justify since a definition in legislation passed by Parliament, albeit not yet in force, would enable an interpretation of hastily drafted regulations that is more consistent with the Bill of Rights.

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There is however recognition in the regulations themselves that they may require adjustment to deal with conditions on the ground in order ‘to safeguard the right to privacy while ensuring the ability of the Department of Health to engage in urgent and effective contact tracing.’4 The COVID-19 Judge is enabled to propose such further amendments to the Cabinet. Unlike many other countries, the South African use of data is solely for contact tracing and not for enforcement of movement restrictions. Yet questions remain. How useful will the location data be in contact tracing? What are the Dispatches

Profile for Meatspace Press

Data Justice and COVID-19: Global Perspectives  

The COVID-19 pandemic has reshaped how social, economic, and political power is created, exerted, and extended through technology. Through c...

Data Justice and COVID-19: Global Perspectives  

The COVID-19 pandemic has reshaped how social, economic, and political power is created, exerted, and extended through technology. Through c...

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